Introduction to Taxco
When the journey from Mexico City to Acapulco took a couple of days, Taxco was a stopping place on the two-lane highway. The superhighway bypassed Taxco in the 1950's, and the newer freeway (Autopista del Sol) reduced the journey to a few hours.
The town of 90,000 people, which clings precariously to the side of a steep mountain, is centered on the ZÃ³calo. The streets are ancient, cobbled, crooked, steep and narrow, and largely without sidewalks. Parking is difficult and sometimes impossible; it's best to ride the 'combis' up from the Garita. The ZÃ³calo and the surrounding area are home to hundreds of silver shops and a few handicraft shops.
|Cathedral of Santa Prisca|
The Cathedral of Santa Prisca, built and paid for by a local silver multi-millionaire, JosÃ© de la Borda, in 1748, is an amazing pink stone confection located on the ZÃ³calo. Santa Prisca boasts its original parquet flooring and towering gold-leaf 'retablos' (altars). It also houses what is believed to be the first pipe organ in the Americas – which came overland from VeraCruz in a journey of six months. You can see Borda's portrait in the vestry.
How to get to, and around, Taxco
Access is by bus, tour van, or private car.
Taxco is served by two major bus lines, Estrella Blanca and Estrella de Oro. It's four hours by bus from Acapulco; you can buy bus tickets at any Estrella de Oro station or ticket agent, or at www.estrelladeoro.com.mx (in Spanish). The bus station is on the old highway, which is still a two-lane wonder.
Converted VW vans or "combis" run up and down this old road to a central "Garita" where one can catch another combi uphill to the ZÃ³calo. The cost is three pesos per person. Parking is virtually non-existent, so a private car or van may be far more troublesome and limiting than help and convenience.
Three grand old hotels date from Taxco's days as a major stop on the main road: La MisiÃ³n, Hotel de la Borda, and El Monte. Today they are cavernous, often half-empty reminders of the 1930's and 1940's, but they're still relatively expensive. The ZÃ³calo is a fairly tough uphill walk from these hotels, which were built for people passing through town on their way to the beach or the Capital.
There are a number of small family hotels in and around the ZÃ³calo. It's a good idea to ask to see the room and be quoted a firm price, before you register.
Places to Eat
|Taxco, with the Cathedral of Santa Prisca to the left|
The big hotels have restaurants, but these are not often heavily patronized.
There are many good little restaurants on and near the ZÃ³calo. There are also any number of taquerÃas which are generally pretty good: I think tacos al pastor (with meat and a variety of vegetables) are really good, and they just cost about five pesos each (the normal order is three, but you can have what you like at most places).
Paco's, on a balcony overlooking the ZÃ³calo, has a limited selection of mostly American type and relatively mediocre food at relatively high prices.
The Santa Fe, on a side street leading from the ZÃ³calo, has very good, economical Mexican lunches and food. And there are a number of Pizzarias nearby.